Socialist Utopian Communities in the U.S. and Reasons for their Failures

Elizabeth Nako, Providence College


Near mid-nineteenth century, dozens of groups of men and women in both North America and Europe at this time saw “forming communities as the best opportunity for social progress.” While a small number of men enjoyed the luxuries and riches with the benefits of the Industrial Revolution, the majority of people comprised of the working class found themselves in suffering and misery from this new system. The unhappiness amongst civilization at this time period led to social philosophers and reformers to find new systems to cope with these social problems of the working class. One of these reform ideas and probably the most radical of all theories proposed is referred to by the name of Socialism. This scheme of theory of newly social organization was supposed to be liberated from the abuses of modern society and invited humanity to adopt this happy country, a Utopia. Utopian socialists believed that they could gradually convert the entire world to their system “by a practical demonstration of its feasibility and benefits in a miniature society.” During the nineteenth century, historians estimate that about several hundred socialist utopia communities existed in various parts of the United States, and that the number of people whom participated in these experiments were hundreds of thousands. Thus although these socialist utopian communities seemed ideal for a group of people living together for the betterment of a whole, unfortunately these ideas were lost in a capitalist American society. These socialistic utopias could not survive in a country with a competitive industry, and eventually social and economic problems within the communities would contribute to the demise of these utopias.